There have been headlines galore during this NBA pre-season and not just for the basketball.
Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony have made their way to the Lakers, Ben Simmons is all but certain to walk out of Philadelphia, Kyrie has been frozen out of Brooklyn’s squad and a young Aussie is set to take the league by storm.
Here are the top ten reason you need to be glued to the screen watching NBA season 2021/22 unfold.
10. Josh Giddey
The young, wirey Australian has been highly touted upon his arrival to the USA after being drafted by Oklahoma City Thunder.
He is quite tall for a guard and moves gracefully across the court with ball in hand.
Oklahoma City is in rebuild mode and he is going to play a pivotal role in the team this season.
Look for him to use his laser-like vision and eloquent passing range to get his teammates involved as he flings the ball around the court.
9. Patty Mills
Our very own three-point king.
The Australian veteran put to pen to paper with Brooklyn Nets in the off-season after spending over a decade with San Antonio.
He might be getting a bit long in the tooth at 33 years old, but make no mistakes, his presence will be felt at Brooklyn.
Even though Mills will be in the shadow of Kevin Durant and James Harden, he will still play important minutes off the bench with his incredible accuracy from long range.
A championship ring would cap off what has been a brilliant run in the league.
8. Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson – the second half of the ‘Splash Brothers’ – will make his much anticipated return from debilitating long-term injuries that have kept him off the court for the better part of two seasons.
An ACL injury ended his 2019/20 season and the road to his comeback last season was cruelly cut short by a torn achilles tendon.
He is being held back from making a return early this season, but we expect to see him back in full practice within the next month.
Golden State’s title chances will rest solely on whether he can get back to his brilliant shooting form prior the injuries.
Regardless, it will be a joy to see him out on the court again and draining three-point shots for fun.
7. Crowds are back
We got a taste, late in the season, of what it was like to see, feel, hear and smell what was missing in the grandstands of each NBA court around the USA through this wretched pandemic.
The roaring voices when late match-winners are drained, the echoing chants of ‘DEFENCE’, the battering of clappers to put off visiting teams – it’s all back this season.
6. Ben Simmons saga
Possibly the biggest enigma in the NBA right now.
We know how much talent Ben Simmons has.
Defensively he is amongst the best players in the league and his contract justifies that status.
But his off-court stoush with Philadelphia 76ers management and marquee player Joel Embiid has been well documented.
We still do not know where he is going to be playing this season with many suggesting he is certain to leave Philly.
Whoever he plays for, headlines will be for all the right or wrong reasons.
Let’s hope, for our sake, we see the best of Ben where the basketball does the talking.
5. Cade Cunningham
The number one pick of the 2021 NBA draft.
Cade Cunningham is set to excite NBA fans around the globe after being nabbed by Detroit Pistons.
The Oklahoma State University product wowed selectors and recruiters with an impressive college season that saw him named in the NCAA All American team and the recipient of a handful of 10 other individual honours.
Cunningham looks a genuine star point guard.
His 2020/21 college season him average 20.1 points per game, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see the best of him at the start of the season after he suffered an ankle injury during pre-season training camp.
4. Nikola Jokic dominance
The 2020/21 MVP looks set for another huge year.
His remarkable effort last season saw the 26-year-old Serbian closer to averaging a triple-double.
The Denver Nuggets centre amassed a 2020/21 average of 26.4 points per game, alongside 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists making him one of the hardest players to guard against.
The crazy thing about him is there still seems to be upside to his game given his age.
If he finds a little bit extra in the locker, coupled with an improving Nuggets squad, they could very well go all the way.
3. Milwaukee & Giannis
He could have moved for more fame and fortune.
He could have signed the big contract at a ‘bigger’ franchise.
But Giannis Antetokounmpo was rewarded for his loyalty to the cause last season.
Named the NBA Finals MVP, Giannis led the way for the Milwaukee all year despite a massive injury in the playoffs.
The man dubbed ‘The Greek Freak’ will be back in an attempt to repeat the championship-winning season of 2020/21 for his beloved Milwaukee Bucks.
His brute strength and power around the ring is what gets us out of our seats.
2. Brooklyn without Kyrie
Brooklyn had the championship rings their for the taking last season if not for a wretched run of injuries leading into and throughout the NBA playoffs.
Now it will have to do so without Kyrie Irving, at least, for the foreseeable future after he was frozen out of the squad.
The silver lining for coach Steve Nash is that he at least has ample to find a way to properly deal without the play-making ability of Irving.
The Nets still have incredible championship-winning team at their disposal and it is represented in the current betting markets.
It might very well be Patty Mills who plays more minutes in the absence of Kyrie.
1. Lebron, Davis, Westbrook & Carmelo
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony.
The Los Angeles Lakers are going to be a must-watch fixture this season.
The Lakers have gone all out on on experience in the off-season to acquire the talents of Anthony and Westbrook in tandem with James and Davis.
We have already seen a few headaches for the Lakers in the pre-season as they look to build chemistry.
Anything less than a Championship with the amount of money spalshed about in the off-season would probably be deemed a failure.
The intrigue surrounding how Frank Vogel handles these massive egos is what will either lead to success or failure.